April 23, 2012

Beyond Fight or Flight: Opening to the Gifts of Spirit. ~ Margaret Paul

Learn about accepting the soul’s challenge of moving beyond the instincts of fight or flight, and choosing instead to be on the path of love.

Jacob, a client of mine, often complained of feeling empty inside. He had learned to avoid this feeling with food, daydreaming, and pulling on this for approval, sex and attention. In one of our sessions, I asked him to breathe into the emptiness—opening to it, embracing it, welcoming it and moving into compassion for it.

“I don’t get how to feel compassion for myself,” stated Jacob.

Compassion, peace, joy, love—these are the natural feelings of our soul essence when we are connected with Spirit. These feelings are what Spirit is, what God is. These feelings are the gifts of Spirit that we experience when we are present in the moment and our hearts are open to receiving these gifts, and open to learning about loving ourselves and others.

While this is the natural state of the soul when connected with Spirit, it is not the natural state of the mind. The natural state of the mind, coming from our primitive instincts for survival, is to control people and the outcome of things, often through some form of fight or flight. Some common forms of fight or flight are anger, blame, withdrawal, resistance and compliance.

Here we have one of the major challenges of life on this planet—the challenge of choosing the spiritual journey of evolving our soul in our ability to love ourselves and others, or the earthly journey of control. Our intent—to learn about love or to try to have control over getting love and avoiding pain—governs which journey we are on in any given moment.

When our intent is to control, our mind is in charge. When our intent is to learn, our heart is in charge. When we choose the intent to learn about loving ourselves and others, our heart opens to the gifts of Spirit. This may sound easy, yet it is a constant challenge to choose the intent to learn, moment by moment.

Let’s go back to Jacob and his struggle with feeling compassion for his own emptiness. The paradox is that if he did feel compassion for his emptiness, he would not feel empty—he would feel filled with the compassion. But in order to feel compassion, he needs to open to learning with Spirit, and Jacob does not believe that Spirit is here for him. While he conceptually believes in God, he has never had an experience of God, so his mind does not believe that there is anything to open to.

Jacob came into a family, as I did and as many of us did, with parents who were disconnected from the love and compassion of Spirit.

Being disconnected from the gifts of Spirit, they could not bring through these gifts to Jacob.

Jacob got attention and some approval when he did what his parents wanted him to do, but he never got the experience of love and compassion.

He does not know what it feels like, and he will not know until he is willing to move beyond the intent to control and into the intent to learn about love.

In order to feel love and compassion, Jacob needs to re-parent himself. Here is the assignment I gave to Jacob:

“Get a doll or stuffed animal that represents your inner little boy who never experienced compassion. Pin a picture of you as a little boy onto the doll or stuffed animal. Set aside time to be with your inner little boy and give him exactly what you give to your dog and your beloved little daughter. Unlike your parents, you open your heart when you are with your dog and your daughter. You are loving and tender with them. You see their souls and you value who they are. Little Jacob has never received this loving, and is not even available to receiving it from your wife, who wants to share her love with you. Until you are willing to open to seeing the beauty of your own soul—the beautiful little boy within you—you will not be able to share love with your wife. And as much as you love your daughter, you are a role model for her, and if you are not loving yourself, she will not learn to love herself, just as you learned from your parents to not love yourself.”

The Six-Step Inner Bonding® process we offer is an incredible roadmap toward doing what your soul came here to do—evolve your soul in love and compassion. It is a powerful tool in re-parenting yourself and giving yourself the experience of God. Briefly, here are the Six Steps of Inner Bonding:

Step One: Willingness to Feel Pain and Take Responsibility for Your Feelings

In Step One, you move into the present moment and focus within, tuning into your feelings and emotions. You make the choice to be mindful of all your feelings, including your painful feelings, rather than protect against them with substance and process addictions. You make a conscious decision that you want to take responsibility for your feelings, which means that you want responsibility for learning how you are causing your own anxiety, depression, anger, guilt and shame with your own thoughts and actions, and that you want responsibility for learning how to nurture the painful feelings of life—the loneliness, heartbreak, helplessness and grief that are so challenging.

This begins the process of opening you up to receive the positive energy that enlivens and sustains you.

Step Two: Move into the Intent to Learn

In Step Two, you focus in your heart and invite the compassionate presence of your higher self into your heart.

Now you’re ready to focus on “intent”—your deepest desire, your primary motivation. There are only two possible intents you can have in any given moment:

  • The intent to protect yourself from pain
  • The intent to learn about loving yourself

When you are in the intent to learn you are a loving adult. When you are in the intent to protect and avoid, you are operating from your shame-based ego wounded self.

photo: Shanissinha

The commitment to your intention to learn opens you up and allows you to connect with your feelings and your higher self.

Step Three: Dialogue with Your Wounded self and Core Self

With kindness, gentleness and compassion toward yourself, you discover the thoughts/false beliefs from your wounded self that may be causing your shame, fear and pain, and you learn how to release anger and pain in appropriate ways. You uncover false beliefs that were created in the past and have led to the self-abandonment that is causing your current pain and shame. You explore what may be happening with a person or event that is causing the core painful feelings of loneliness, heartache, heartbreak, helplessness or grief. You explore your core Self—your essence, your feeling self—and discover what brings you joy.

Only when the unconscious lies that have limited you for so long are understood and identified, can they be replaced by new and healthier truths that will nurture and heal you.

In Step Three, you ask yourself questions, such as, “What am I trying to control?” “What am I avoiding feeling with my protective, controlling behavior?”

Step Four: Dialogue with Your Higher Guidance

In Step Four, you ask your spiritual guidance (whatever that is for you): “What is the truth about the thoughts/false beliefs I may have uncovered in Step Three?” And, “What is the loving behavior toward myself in this situation? What is in my highest good? What is kind to myself?” You open and allow the answers to come through you in words, pictures or feelings. The answers may not come immediately, but if you have a sincere desire to learn, they will come.

By staying open to learning, you experience that you are never alone. This is where fears fall away and you begin to receive all the love and wisdom you need to take loving action for yourself and with others.

Step Five: Take Loving Action

Step Five is about telling yourself the truth and taking the loving action based on the information that came through from your guidance in Step 4.

You have opened to your pain, moved into learning, started a dialogue with your wounded self and core self, and tapped into your spiritual guidance. In step Five you take the ‘loving action’ that, over time, heals the shame, anxiety and depression that have been the result of your self-abandonment.

Step Six: Evaluate Your Action

Once you take the loving action, you check in to see if your pain, anger and shame are getting healed. If not, you go back through the steps until you discover the truth and actions that bring you peace, joy and a deep sense of intrinsic worth.

Turning this daily practice into a way of life is what will protect you from going back into the behaviors and patterns from the past. Much like attending to—say—a child’s feelings, you learn to keep a loving relationship with yourself throughout your life, no matter the challenges that come at you. This loving relationship with yourself and your guidance fills you and empowers you to handle life’s challenges with strength and equanimity.

Inner Bonding is a practice, a form of meditation. You will not receive the gifts of Spirit without devotion to this practice or a similar practice. The mind wants to learn it as a concept, even as a form of control. Yet you will not experience the love, peace, joy, compassion and happiness you seek until you actually bring the practice into your life, moment by moment.

As Jacob brought this practice into his life throughout each day, his emptiness was gradually replaced with the beautiful gifts of Spirit.

To begin learning how to love and connect with yourself so that you can connect with others, take advantage of our Free Help with anxiety, depression, spiritual connection, relationships and parenting.


Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books, relationship expert, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® process – featured on Oprah, and recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette. Are you are ready to heal your pain and discover your joy? Click here for a FREE Inner Bonding course: http://www.innerbonding.com/welcome and visit our website at http://www.innerbonding.com for more articles and help. Phone and Skype Sessions Available. Join the thousands we have already helped and visit us now!


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